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"PATERSON": Cinematic poetry for the poetically uncinematic

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After a harsh holiday season of lasers and spaceships and superheroes and explosions, the irrevocably beautiful Paterson, the latest film from indie stalwart Jim Jarmusch, is a wonderfully nonchalant tribute to the unheralded artists that create to create; the purity of words on paper before dreams of fawning fans and filthy lucre taint and torpor any of those tender lines’ remaining beatification.

Utilizing the words of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s award-winning Ron Padgett as the alter-ego of the titular Paterson, New Jersey bus driver of the same name (a subdued Adam Driver), as Paterson moves from stop to stop and break to break, he secretly and thoughtfully strings together words that romance his everyday mundanities, the conversations he overhears, the scant interactions he has, a blue collar working man with the soul of a great artist that will probably never be discovered.

With his preciously ever-loving (and forever championing) wife by his side (Golshifteh Farahani), as she spends her day creating things in her own way (she has a penchant for painting drapes and making cupcakes and learning guitar via Estaban), he simply and quietly wakes up, drives his bus, walks his dog and grabs a beer on the way home, maybe running into a character or two along the way, but never once aiming for anything more than a few minutes peace on his lunch break to watch the waterfall in the park as he scribbles a line or two.

Padgett’s selected poems about boxed matches and looking at other girls are so quietly restrained from the loud open mic world of abrasive poetry we’ve become accustomed to over the past few years, the still observances of Paterson’s words as he carries on from task to task, create such a sleeping beauty aspect to the world it’s impossible not to feel the same way walking out of the theater into ours.

Even when threats of danger are made that, in a typical film, would give the characters reason for a great big melodramatic ending with histrionics galore, we’re not allowed that because, let’s face it, those aren’t a part of real life; only in the movies. Paterson is meant to be a gloriously mundane man, finding the most articulate beauty in the most mundane things around him.

And, when we do finally get to the film’s great catastrophic final act—the very thought of which is a sheer terror to artists everywhere, I’m sure—it’s basically a short-lived stubbed toe as quiet hope and rhythmic redemption are found—if they were ever truly lost—in a typically Jarmuschian coda that ties the constant references of poet William Carlos William and his works together, keeping the creative spirit alive long after the credit roll.

What we have here is a testament to the unvarnished romantic love of self-expression in its every form; the love of responsibility and the isolation that it can bring, the love of a stead-fast relationship where couples not only support but believe in each outer and, most of all, the love of creating something—anything—for no other reason than it’s something that just has to be done, fame or glory be damned.

Paterson is pure cinematic poetry dedicated to the poetically uncinematic.

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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